Dear Veterinary Medicine community:
Our current COVID-19 pandemic has caused all of us to change our plans and adjust to a new reality. As we renew our operations and plan for the new school year, I want to thank you for your patience and the adjustments you’ve made as we navigate these extraordinary times. I appreciate your determination to follow public health guidelines and campus policies as we continue our mission to ensure the greatest safety for everyone in our community. Here are some updates of interest to our community:
Plans and Events in the Days of COVID-19
- Faculty and student leadership have been working to solidify fall academic plans, which align with the guidance from university leadership. As with the rest of UC Davis, we will be holding online classes whenever possible and are taking extra precautions when students need to be physically present in labs or clinical settings.
- Our annual White Coat Ceremony will occur on Friday, August 14, as scheduled, but it will be online. We’ll broadcast it on Facebook, so anyone who wants to attend can do so virtually. Look for more information soon.
- We will continue to notify the community when we receive a report of a positive COVID-19 test of someone who has been working in any of our facilities. Contact tracing and personal notifications are managed by the county and central campus. As we have previously communicated, each notification of a positive test or report received through the campus reporting system is evaluated by our Campus Student Health and Counseling Services (if a student) or by Occupational Medicine (if an employee). The process is overseen by Risk Management with coordination as needed with Facilities, Legal, and/or Human Resources.
- We appreciate the efforts that are being taken by our leaders, faculty, staff, and others to keep our workplaces safe, such as creating and enacting office safety plans, putting up signage, and taking other actions as outlined on the Campus Ready website. Our workplaces are safest when everyone is taking an active role in promoting best practices, so thank you for keeping yourself informed and involved.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice
- I am proud to serve on our campus’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Executive Advisory Committee. Through the leadership of Vice Chancellor Renetta Garrison Tull, our campus has created a series of programs and resources to help guide our efforts.
- The University of California is pushing to repeal Proposition 209, the 1996 law that set California back in the diversity of racial representation in its most selective institutions of public higher education. California voters in November will be asked to weigh in on Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 (ACA 5), put forth by California Assembly Member Shirley Weber. Successful passage of the amendment would allow the school to adjust its admissions policies to be more equitable.
- I want to thank everyone who has been working to advance racial equity at the school and in their communities, whether through discussion, self-education and contemplation, or action. I continue to have discussions on how to work even harder on this at the school, including through a recent meeting with student leaders, and look forward to the recommendations that our new Community Council will make for us to augment what already exists in the School’s Strategic Plan. The recent protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have created a watershed moment for awareness, but it will take sustained attention and action to make significant changes. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any suggestions on how we can be more effective in advancing racial equity.
Challenges for our International Students
- The recent Homeland Security changes to its Student and Exchange Visitor Program that do not allow international students to remain in the country if they are solely taking online classes—even during a global pandemic—are cruel and thoughtless to students and undermine the United States’ global intellectual and scientific leadership position.
- The University of California and UC Davis are working together to legally contest the changes and to help protect our international students, including by providing ample in-person class experiences (so long as permitted by public health authorities) to enable those who need in-person courses to comply with the recently announced federal requirements. We support central campus efforts and serve as a resource for our international students.
These are difficult times, but we continue to move ahead as a school because of all of your dedication and perseverance. Thank you for continuing to be partners in making us better and stronger as an institution and as a community.
Michael D. Lairmore
Dean and Distinguished Professor